The Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia was established in February 2001 to establish consumer standards and guidelines within the industry. The forum recently published a draft General Consumer Code of Practice, which will act as a set of guidelines for self-regulation, for public comment. However, unlike other voluntary industry codes in Malaysia, the code will have a binding effect on all licensed service providers such as telecommunications operators, broadcasters and internet service providers (ISPs), and all non-licensed service providers which are members of the forum.
The general principles of the code are as follows:
- Consumers should be given sufficient, up-to-date and accurate information in respect of the provision and use of any communications or multimedia service;
- Consumers are entitled to a certain standard of service;
- Consumer requirements shall be balanced against the service provider's needs and business; and
- Both consumers and service providers should deal with each other in a reasonable manner.
The proposed code covers four main areas.
Provision of information to consumers
Information to be provided to consumers includes pricing information, terms and conditions of subscription and billing particulars, as well as consumers' obligations and rights of redress.
The code seeks to regulate advertising and promotional materials in relation to products provided by service providers. Service providers must ensure that all advertising materials comply with the guidelines set out in Section L, Part 2 of the code.
Protection of consumer information
Service providers may collect and maintain necessary information concerning consumers. However, the collection and maintenance of information must be:
- fair and legal;
- processed in accordance with the consumer's rights;
- adequate, relevant and accurate; and
- secure, and
- the information must not be transferred to any third party without the consumer's prior consent.
It is the service provider's responsibility to adopt and implement a policy to safeguard such information.
Handling consumer complaints
All service providers must implement a complaint handling system to process complaints made to them. Service providers must inform consumers of their right to complain and of the procedure for making such complaints. Once a written complaint is received, service providers are obliged to acknowledge it within three working days and to try to resolve the complaint within 30 days.
Self-regulation of the communications industry
The forum is responsible for monitoring compliance with the code, as well as for handling complaints received in relation to contraventions of it.
Consumer complaints must be lodged and dealt with by the relevant service provider in accordance with the code. If a consumer is still dissatisfied with the resolution, he or she may then lodge a complaint with the forum. All industry complaints must be lodged directly with the forum.
It is hoped that the code will promote a high level of consumer confidence in the services delivered by the communications industry, protect consumer information and create an inexpensive dispute resolution process, in addition to providing compensation for consumers where appropriate.
For further information on this topic please contact Sharon Suyin Tan at Zaid Ibrahim & Co by telephone (+603 257 9999) or by fax (+603 254 4888) or by email ([email protected]).